Green paper strategy is ‘tokenistic’ in dealing with young people’s views

The government is in danger of taking a tokenistic approach towards
involving children and young people in shaping policy, children’s
charities have warned.

As the deadline for responses to the children’s green paper passed
last week, both Barnardo’s and the National Children’s Bureau said
they were increasingly concerned that comprehensive research
carried out into young people’s views of services was not going to
be used.

Between November 2001 and March 2002, 2,500 children and young
people took part in the “Your Say…” consultation organised by the
now disbanded Children and Young People’s Unit as part of its work
to develop an overarching strategy for children’s services in

The strategy, initially planned for release alongside the
children’s green paper, has not been published by the government.
The only part to be included in the green paper was its model of
five outcomes of children’s well-being against which services
should be judged.

Lisa Payne, principal policy officer for NCB, said the government
had “cheated” the young people who took part in the consultation.

“The outcomes are good but it’s not a representation of all that
work. What’s in the green paper is a tiny proportion – it is very
disappointing,” she added.

Di McNeish, director of Barnardo’s policy, research and influencing
unit, said many people were happy with the proposed shape of the
CYPU’s strategy but were now worried that the work would

“It appears tokenistic and doesn’t inspire much confidence in the
green paper consultation,” McNeish said.

Sue Lewis, former deputy director of the CYPU, said she could
understand people’s disappointment that the overarching strategy
wasn’t published but insisted “the outcomes we want will be
achieved by the green paper”.

The government has since also consulted with children and young
people on the green paper proposals. But Erica De’Ath, chief
executive of the National Council of Voluntary Child Care
Organisations, said she was “unsure” the children involved in the
consultation would feel their concerns, priorities and
contributions had been “adequately recognised and valued”.

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services called for the
principles developed in the CYPU’s strategy to be employed by
children’s trusts when commissioning services.

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